ICM’s monthly poll for the Guardian has finally appeared (it was conducted on the Tuesday and Wednesday before Chistmas, but presumably held back till today’s paper when there is normally no proper news to report!). Topline figures, with changes from the ICM/Sunday Telegraph poll straight after the veto are CON 37%(-3), LAB 36%(+2), LDEM 15%(+1).

The rest of the poll had some questions on economic optimism (unremittingly negative, as usual), and on leadership qualities. On overall approval Cameron’s net rating is plus 5, Miliband minus 17, Clegg minus 19. On the figures shown in the Guardian 55% of people think Cameron has “the courage to say what is right rather than what is popular”, 50% think he is “good in a crisis”, only 34% think he “understands people like me”. For Miliband 41% think he has “the courage to say what is right rather than what is popular”, 37% think he “understands people like me”, 21% think he is “good in a crisis”.

325 Responses to “ICM/Guardian – CON 37, LAB 36, LDEM 15”

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  1. @ Welsh Borderer

    “Labour have also generally “perfumed” well in comparison with the 2010 GE…
    I enjoyed your Freudian slip. :-)

  2. “it sets the mood” of the parliamentary troops as well…

    Blasted iPad !

  3. Welsh Borderer

    A Red Rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet?

  4. @ Rob Sheffield

    C&S would be a huge tactical error on the part of the Lib Dems compared with running the whole five years, since it would allow the Conservatives to take the credit for any improvement in the economy and the public finances. I absolutely believe that the Coalition will last the full five years, if only because the problems that need sorting out are so entrenched it will only be in the final 2014-2015 stretch that the benefits of changes put in place now will be seen.

  5. @ Rob Sheffield

    I think it is your first scenario – that the Coalition may not last – which kills your second, that Labour will have a new leader before 2015.

    Labour can’t be messing about with nominations & hustings & all that inward looking jazz whilst a minority Tory government is hanging by the thread of C&S.

    Do you honestly think that Labour would risk being caught without a leader when the Coalition is already broken & the Uk might face an event which could bring down a minority Tory government?

    Or are you thinking that the LDs might offer a new Coalition with Labour & that part of the deal would be Ed out to be replaced by… who? Somebody the LDs pick; somebody else picked by Labour; an open run off regarding who, from either Party, should be PM to get around the “unelected” PM thing? Really, that is all too messy & complicated to be considered, unless you are very ‘romantic’ indeed. ;-)

  6. @TopHat,

    Congratulations on your Balliol offer. I understand that’s quite a complimentary offer these days, with all the A* nonsense kicking around.

    Careful with your spending plans, though… slurge too much on that student loan and Moody’s may downgrade your AAA status….


    I agree very much with your assessment of Ed Miliband. He’s not having things all his own way, but I think overall he’s doing a reasonable job. He is fighting the raised expectations of a party that assumed “the only way is up”. His bookishness and reduced-testosterone style may not pummel the government as hard as some people would like, but his primary task is to help Labour establish what they should look, feel and sound like in a post-2010-drubbing, post-Credit Crunch, post-EuroFederalist era. Bookishness is an asset in such circumstances.

    I can’t see any benefit that a change of leader would give Labour that wouldn’t be more than counteracted by the difficulties it would cause. Ed M is “good enough”.

    On Ed Balls, I think there is probably scope for redeployment. Labour aren’t managing to reshape the public’s view of austerity very much so far, despite Ed Balls tackling the issue pretty much head-on (to the point of virtual deficit-denial). A more subtle performer in the Shadow Chancellor role might have more success. Alastair Darling would ironically be the ideal choice, but may not want it. Ed Balls does, however, have a lot of political chops, and should probably go back to a “spending ministry” where he can hurl insults at his opposite number over whatever cuts they are proposing this week.

    As a keen watcher of PMQ`s,I would not agree with your assessment of the whole year…During the middle of the year,Ed did exceptionally well and there were murmurings against DC…I would accept DC has improved though and done well over the last few…The PMQ`s prior to the veto where he made the handwringing comment was called an Ed win by The Telegraph with the comment`Bully gets beaten back`

    The problem is this doesn`t fit with the media narrative and hence gets very poor coverage in the papers and television…His team needs to work on getting better coverage for him…I would rather he has poor media coverage than appoint Andy Coulson though

  8. Amber/ Smukesh/Robert C

    If there is only one candidate then there are no hustings. If EdM is not the wilful narcissist that some posters say he isn’t and stands aside late 2013 the PLP can agree to nominate only a single candidate (if they also have the good of the party in their minds). A voluntary harikiri also means that the new leader 2014 does not get tarnished with assassin labels and means it would be a perfectly appropriate moment to pass the baton. Those saying it has to be this coming year are cravenly and obviously not pro- Labour.

    Lib Dems (of the ilk other than the clearly orange-Cameroonian Robert C) will likely IMO have had enough by late 2013.

    Besides they have not got the benefit of anything that the government- in the minds of the voters- has got ‘right’ thus far: nd they won’t get the benefit of any improvements in the economy circa 2014.

    Though one is tempted to question ‘what improvements’? Osborne has already signalled that there will be a minimum of 2 more years of mindnumbing/ bone crunching/ wallet busting austerity in 2016 and 2017 and no pre 2015 GE (if it lasts that long) taxation giveaway bribe/ sweetener.

    The Lib Dems pulling out of the coalition – and attendant noise- would be a far more opportune time for EdM to stand down than if they chose to continue their strange slow death: though if it is the latter and EdMs voluntary demise is discrete that is still better than him leading us over the top at the next GE.

    Plus EdM did also discuss changing the rules over a number of issues including the summer long month of (largely) pointless hustings.

    On PMQs I’d do some fact checking in the BBC archive (Nick R and DPS) and you will see a significant margin of victory by Cameron. Those are the seasoned observers though. More to the point he does not resonate outside of the left geek/ politico/ union bubble. That also has-for Cameron- the joyful side effect of making him (DC) seem even better than he (undoubtedly) is. He’s a natural as PM who was a rubbish leader of the opposition. As is EdM. But Ed is up against ‘born to rule’ Dave- is up against a man who has visibly grown into and within his role as PM.

    Whereas Dave was up against the worst postwar PM!

    Thatcher and Blair were both lucky in their enemies.

    So is David Cameron.

  9. @Neil A


    Though I enjoyed more your party mate Roland’s blatant entreaties for Labour to hang onto EdM !

    I always take Nick R`s reports with a pinch of salt…The man was once a conservative card holder who visibly beams when they do well and sulks when they don`t…I would accept that DC has done quite well for someone who was a poor leader of the opposition…But the numbers don`t lie and the fact that the Tory lead has evaporated within 2-3 weeks of the veto suggests vast members of the populace who don`t agree that DC is that good…Just prior to the veto the monthly Ipsos-Mori poll showed a fall of 12 points for DC in a month…He is a lucky PM though

  11. TOP HAT

    @”On an entirely unrelated note, I received an AAA offer from Balliol to study PPE. ”

    Many congratulations :-)

  12. Smukesh

    But the Tory lead has not reverted back to a ex post ‘summit walk-out’ 4-5 point Labour lead (the only accurate defintion of the term “vanished”) though has it ?!

    We won’t know until the first week of the new year whether it’s still level pegging on YG and other companies still show a Tory lead (as was the case in the week before Xmas).

    Personally I would not anticipate a 4 point plus Labour lead that lasts for more than 3 days and is not explainable by m.o.e until the credit card bills and overdraft fees start hitting households and individuals in late January/ early February.

    Though the attendant bounce will not be as much as it would have been if Labour had a better leader.

    Then in February and March we have the Eurozone Treaty back again dominating the headlines!

  13. Top Hat’s is an interesting point. I’ve long thought that the ideal situation for an opposition is to get a new leader two or three years into a Parliament. A winning opposition is normally playing the change card to some degree and its useful for an opposition leader to look new and fresh (and hard to sustain that image throughout a five year Parliament). Equally it helps with the dilemma between looking like you have no policies, or announcing them and having the government cherry pick or undermine your good ones and attack your bad ones, if you only have to maintain that balance for 2 years!

    It goes double when a party goes into opposition – the leader a party needs when entering opposition really isn’t the same person they need fighting an election.

    When a party goes into opposition they need someone with some maturity and authority to knock the party into line, bring in reforms and make some hard decisions. They need someone who will hold the fort while the party works out what went wrong and chooses a way forward. Basically, they need someone of the cut of Michael Howard or Jack Straw.

    That is not, however, necessarily the same sort of person who they want to offer up to the electorate as a potential Prime Minister at the following election. Then they want someone with some charisma who can make a connection with the public and sell their message. They want someone who looks young (politically, if not chronologically!) and fresh, and who is relatively unsullied by the previous regime and can distance themselves from whatever the public think they did wrong in order to have voted them out the last time. They need someone of the cut of Burnham, or indeed a Reeves or Umanna (though picking out future leaders this early in their career is inevitable the kiss of death to them!).

    The classic example of too much too young at the wrong stage of recovery from defeat was William Hague. Now, William had his own problems with allowing a public image of being odd to attach to him early in his leadership that he couldn’t shake off, but aside from that his leadership was spoilt by unsufficient authority when the party was still split assunder by its defeat and coming to terms with the reasons for it. Andrew Cooper realised very early what the party needed to do to modernise and make itself electable again, but Hague did not have the authority to impose it upon the party and ended up buffeted by opposing factions.

    Essentially the Conservative party needed Michael Howard or Ken Clarke in 1997, to lose under them while the foundations for recovery were put in place and a new generation of potential leaders got experience, and then to elect the new, young, electable leader in 2001 (or better, if the party made modest progress under Howard/Clarke, in 2002/2003). At the time it would probably have been a Hague, Fox or Lansley (who of course, we all look at through various assorted baggage they’ve collected since, but in the circumstances would have looked much younger and fresher!)

    In a perfect world parties would do that – select an interim leader to put the party in order, who steps down two years later for the election-winning leader to take over. Our system works against that though – the leader of the opposition is a permanent alternative Prime Minister for an election that could come any day. This works against a party deliberately electing an interim leader while they put themselves in order (or, indeed, separating out party leader and Prime Ministerial candidate).

    Imagine a scenario where the party leadership remained vacant away from an election, with a party chairman filling the effective role of party leader and leader of the opposition until a year or so before the general election when the party elect a Prime Ministerial candidate, possibly through public primaries to build up a bandwagon of popular support. Sometimes of course the party chair would be fought by people who wanted to use it as a staging post for becoming that leader (and sometimes they’d manage), sometimes it could be held by a reliable party elder whose own ambitions were exhausted, keeping the party together through tough times and nurturing talent for the future.

    Doing that would depend on proper fixed terms elections though. An oppisition needs to be certain that they have x amount of time to go through a long candidate selection process like that before leaving themselves without the leader or platform to fight an election that could be called within a month.

    Personally, I make no predictions on whether Miliband will stay in his role. The polls are looking pretty nasty for him now, and there comes a time when negative perceptions get hard to shake off, though it is difficult to know when or if that point is reached. Obviously if the Conservatives stay ahead or neck and neck in the polls it will make things trickier for him, if Labour get back into a comfy lead it will get better for him. Whether he stays in role or not is really not up to the polls though, but to the internal politics of the Parliamentary Labour party, and there I have no insight to offer.

  14. Really interesting post Anthony.


    All I can say is that there is little reason for the doom and gloom that some Labour supporters seem to suffer a long time prior to a general election…There`s plenty of time to correct the negatives and if Ed shows himself not able or willing to do this,then it might be necessary for him to move over in a year`s time or more…It is just too early to judge at present

  16. @ Rob Sheffield

    If there is only one candidate then there are no hustings. If EdM is not the wilful narcissist that some posters say he isn’t and stands aside late 2013 the PLP can agree to nominate only a single candidate (if they also have the good of the party in their minds).
    That was the scenario with Gordon Brown. The Labour Party won’t do that again in the foreseeable future.

  17. @ Top Hat

    “PPE is Politics, Philosophy and Economics. My favourite subjects, which is odd because I don’t really fancy any of the careers traditionally associated with them!

    Balliol is not where David Cameron went – he went to Brasenose. Admittedly, they’re within 30 seconds walking distance of each other, but it is an important distinction – one’s mildly pink, one’s strongly blue. (I leave it to you to guess which one! )

    AAA offer means I have to get 3 As in my A-level exams at the end of this year, otherwise Oxford can still turn me down.”

    Conditional offers like that are probably extremely stressful. I remember when I got my early decision acceptance to college my senior year. I was not only excited but felt a great sense of relief. Of course, all college offers are conditional that you continue to perform at a high level but nothing was that specific.

    My best friend from high school did a year long graduate program at Oxford and he told me about Cameron going to Balliol so I guess he was wrong on that. I now know better.

    As for your favorite subjects, it’s always possible that your interests will change. You might discover new things that you love in college that you didn’t before and you might find you dislike other areas.

    In terms of a career, I don’t want to give any advice here for two reasons: (1) I don’t know what the hell I’m doing myself right now, (2) your system seems to be very different from mine. Here, people change careers all the time. It’s almost expected. Degrees don’t dictate what you’ll spend your life doing but serve instead as currency for the next steps. I get the feeling that things are different for you where you choose a career early on and that’s your path for life. Politics and economics seem like broad and varied enough areas though where you could probably find a job or career path that you liked.

  18. I suspect that 2013 is too close to the GE to get a new leader ready.

    The Lib Dems will remain very loyal to their allies and friends in the tory party- following, in their words, the heavy petting.

    However the Lib dems have alienated natural tories and natural labour voters, who had given them a punt in 2010

  19. @ Rob Sheffield

    “Lib Dems (of the ilk other than the clearly orange-Cameroonian Robert C) will likely IMO have had enough by late 2013.”

    It may comfort you to bracket me like this, but you couldn’t be more wrong if you tried. In terms of economics I would say I am firmly on the left of the party and would actually back state ownership of some public assets that are currently private e.g. the railways. I am also firmly in favour of the mansion tax as a redistributive measure.

    However, I can also see the awful mess left by Labour and the need to stick at the job of clearing it up, not cutting and running half way. I therefore would say I am a firmly left of centre realist. If the money isn’t there to pursue nice social objectives, you can’t spend it.

    I believe there are a lot of other people like me in the Lib Dems who realise that for the good of the country, and however much we may dislike having to work with the Tories, there really is no alternative “easy way”. Ed Balls’s recent appeal to Lib Dems is therefore destined to fall on barren ground.

    In terms of current polling, I am actually relieved that we can still manage scores in the teens. Had we avoided stupid mistakes like “pledging” things that we wanted but knew we couldn’t afford and making the Coalition look like too much of a love-in rather than the sadly necessary product of a uniquely dreadful set of circumstances, I believe we could be doing better. However, our leaders and anything we do is immediately either ignored or pilloried by most of the print media, so I don’t think we would be doing vastly better even if we were out of power. Only when we enter election campaigns proper do we receive broadcast media coverage to redress this and our polling ratings improve.

    I believe Labour’s failure to make more polling capital lies in underlying fundamentals like their recent record in power. It seems unable to construct a coherent narrative of how we got to where we are now and what they would do differently in order to solve Britain’s problems. Ed Miliband’s apparent poor performance as a leader is not his fault – it simply is a sign of that lack of that narrative. In this context, changing leader really won’t help. It will simply upset one wing of Labour’s support – trade unions or members.

  20. Congratulations Top Hat.
    Asquith’s College, Healey I think and Heath I think.

    I played footy for Balliol in 1975-1978 sometimes, not the equivalent!

    PPE Oxon-Balliol is a great start,

    These days they have a very good system for welcoming new students- college mums I think.

    You probably have more self confidence than me: I felt over awed by Oxford for too long, so I would advise a new student to find two niches outside studies where you are comfortable- sport/music etc.

    In terms of A Levels you will be fine. Oxford know a good a level student when they see one. Just take it steadily, week by week in terms of completing current work and revising, starting revision early this term- [past papers etc.

    And well done. As a motivator remember an Oxford Degree gives you a degree from the Greatest university in the world

  21. @CHRISLANE1945
    “The Lib Dems will remain very loyal to their allies and friends in the tory party”

    You really don’t understand how much we don’t like the Conservatives, do you?

    The past few weeks with the EU debacle have shown just how deep the differences are.

    England still has massive amounts of learning left to do about how Coalitions work and remains way behind Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland in terms of its binary view of politics. Both left and right are still trapped in an utterly benighted mindset, hoping that if they cling on to FPTP they can somehow go back to the good old days of left-right buggins’ turn politics.

  22. @Anthony;

    You mean, a little closer to the American primary system?


    Thank you! I’ll be glad to move on from school and into university. Really ready for a little change.

  23. ROBERT C.
    I know this is difficult as Liberals are nice people. (I know Simon fought a straight choice campaign in 1983)

    When the voting records are examined we see that the Liberals voted with the Tories loyally and regularly, on matters such as cutting tax credits for the working poor, and they abandoned their ‘Pledge’ to young people.

    Nick chuckles happily at DC’s attacks on Labour people and values in PMQ’s.

    Mr Cable and Mr Huhne and Mr Alexander are being very loyal, and ‘Ming’ was loyally attacking Labour on Radio 4 this morning and defending the Government.

    Mr Gilligan, not a member of the far left, said correctly on the sky news review of the papers last night that the tory-lib dem economic policy of cutting the economy at a downturn point in the cycle was wrong and not working. The Lib dems are loyally following the policy which was also followed by the 1918-1922 and 1931-1938 Governments. (liberal and conservatives)

    sad but true. I wonder what Joe Grimmond is making of it?

  24. Amber

    That was not the scenario with Brown: there were *plenty* of other candidates (as the succession of plots and schemes over the ensuing 3 desperate years signified) ! Any number f whom would have done a much better job than him.

    But Browns cabal (including the current leader and SC) did a good job of repressing those options and the wider party felt a certain compulsion to allow the man they had knifed in 1994- and who had lay awake at night thinking about the leadership- to finally get what he had obsessed about for so long.

    Nothing of the sort is in play today. OK one element is: in 2007 some Blairites knew he would be a disaster but nominated hm anyway believing a disastrous Brown premiership would lance that boil forever- never for one moment thinking Brownite EdM would stand against Blairite DM.

    When EdM goes some of the ‘serious’ ‘influential’ people you mention around EdM may try to scupper a seamless transition by nominating an opponent. Only he will be able to stop them.

    But 2007 and 2013/2014 will not be/ coud not be more different!

    To appropriate your point and invert it: the Labour party went through an elongated mass-candidate election in 2010.

    It won’t be doing so again for a long time…

    It did us untold harm: not just the farce of ending up with a leader whom the plurality of actual paid up party members and MPs/MEPs did not support(!); not just the Brothers Grim family soap opera; nor the complete lunacy of having Diane Abbott projected into the minds of non aligned middle of the road voters as a potential Labour leader; not just the seemingly never ending continuation of pointless hustings comprised for the most part by the most unrepresentative beard and sandals anti war anti American lefties.

    No: worse than all those absurd catastrophes was that Labour abandoned the stage to the Coalition for 3 months who therefore managed to set in stone the notion that it was Labour who ‘messed up the economy’ (copyright @Robert C) rather than supra national events just like it is actually supra national events that are messing up the economy now as opposed to government policy!

    I agree with everything you have posted on the leadership today.

    How Labour gets out of the bind that allows the tory-liberal government to get away with it is beyond me.

    Who is the man or woman who can move against Ed?

  26. @Rob Sheffield et al
    If Labour change leaders twice in one parliament, they’ll be a certain Tory landslide. Labour will just look muddled, divided and desperate for power at all costs.

    Ed is doing reasonably well. There are clear dividing lines between all three major parties, and the polldrums reflect that the public may already have decided how they will vote. And it will be tight. Also Ed is against two governing parties. It’s madness to think in this climate Lab should be 10pts ahead.

    But if Labour turkeys want to vote Christmas…

  27. George Osborne must be delighted that he has a 21 point lead over labour on economic management.

  28. @ Rob Sheffield

    There was 1 ‘plot’: It was remove Gordon Brown & replace him with David Miliband. It ran for a few years. How did it work out for David? Badly, I think is the answer to that.

    The thing is, there’s an appetite in the media & in the blogs for changing leader. There isn’t any in the Party itself. The vast majority of the Party want to unite & get on with fighting the Tories, not mess around with internal politics.

    Ed M has been going up a pretty steep learning curve & most people inside the Party are smart enough to recognise that. He’ll change your mind Rob. Once he starts stringing together his ‘best’ performances on a regular basis, you’ll come around.

  29. ChrisLane/RobS

    I hear your reflections on the Labour leadership. Regularly. I think you have both made it abundantly clear where you stand on the relative merits of Brown/Blair and EdM/ANOther.

    Before you regale us once again with your theories about how to defenstrate the current Labour leader, may I ask a polling-related question?

    From the depths of the financial and expenses crises in 2008-09, Brown’s Hivt staged a prolonged and consistent recovery in the polls. That was despite a prolonged and consistent guerilla war by Blairites, of which
    DavidM’s will-he-won’t-he farce and James Parnell’s failed call to the barricades we’re simply the most high profile.

    Now, had Labour polled another couple of percent in 2010, we’d almost certainly now have Parlismentary numbers to make up a Lab-Lib coalition, or at least an alternative coalition partner for the Libs to move to, hence giving them a more restraining role on the Tories.

    Which brings me to my question: do you ever lay awake at night full of self-loathing for what your ilk did in 08-10, and do you not see the possibility of repeating the sin in 13-15?


    @”Mr Cable and Mr Huhne are being very loyal”

    If they are the LibDem version of “very loyal;” I hate to think what LibDem duplicity & divisiveness looks like .

  31. Govt, Parliamentary, etc. Bloody iPhone.

  32. @Rob Sheffield – “More to the point he does not resonate outside of the left geek/ politico/ union bubble….”

    Hmm – I think we need a little caution here. Ed M has been very effective at establishing messages – the squeezed middle is now a firmly established concept in people’s minds, he nailed a very good line on responsibility applying at the top end as much as at the bottom, and he was very fast out of the blocks to catch the mood when NOTW crashed and burned. He hasn’t got everything right, but he has had some notable successes, which is pretty good considering how labour were left in 2010.

    Clearly, he doesn’t carry the personal charisma of Cameron at this stage, but as I’ve said before, that is a much less robust quality to have as opposed to getting the message right.

    I suspect Cameron will go the way of Tony ‘I’m a straight kinda guy’ Blair. Blair was able to look into the eye of the voter and say this kind of thing for years and be believed, but it’s a bubble that bursts. Once that happens, you’ve got nothing else. Cameron’s star will wane (much quicker than Blair’s I suspect, but it still might take him into a second term) and when that happens an Ed vs Dave fight might not look so attractive to the blues.

    Ed’s just appointed a new chief of staff who got very good write ups from a number of news people across the spectrum. I’ve never heard of the man, but the journalists reports all said how friendly he was, how he understood news, how he didn’t have an edge and how he has a habit of looking at what is and isn’t working and making effective decisions.

    If the write ups are true, it looks like Team Ed is much stronger now. As a couple of people posted, were it not for an EU non veto, Dave would be sagging badly in the polls and blues would be rumbling on ConHome about their leader.

    One summit and a couple of points either way – maybe we navel gaze a little too deeply on here sometimes?

  33. Hopefully my occassional refrain about some posters (incl lab supporters) judgeing Ed and Labour by the unrealistic yardstick of winning the next GE with an OM.
    I did too had AB above EM (DM was never an option due reasons others have stated) but whoever won was has a mountain to climb and has a 2 term project.
    He and Labour are doing OK (not good) against a sensible target of denying the cons and OM next time and possibly being the largest party. Of course no lab MP can say this publicly.
    EM will be labour leader after the next GE and should probably stand down then to allow someone else to take us to victory in 2019/20.
    The dilema comes if he comes close to the largest party (votes or seats) as some will be tempted to give him another go but history tells us loser is a tag hard to shift.

  34. Robert C

    Re Scots experience of Coalitions.

    Brian Taylor (BBC Scottish Political Editor) told this story in 2009

    There is a story told about the previous Labour/LibDem coalition.

    Labour Ministers were getting increasingly frustrated at what they saw as a lack of discipline on the part of their coalition chums.

    In the interests of open politics, Jim Wallace, the former Liberal Democrat leader, invited a Labour cabinet colleague to attend a LibDem group meeting.

    On thus witnessing the customary blend of hard politics and quasi-anarchy, the Labour colleague opined: “Well, Jim, you must be one hard b . . . d to lead that lot!”

  35. On Ed & Ed;

    I seriously doubt a challenge to EdM. He’s failed to use much of the plentiful ammunition supplied by the coalition in recent months, true, however he is still growing into a leadership role. It’ll take time, but by the end of 2012 I reckon we’ll be seeing a very different EdM.
    Once he learns how to dish out the punches properly PMQs will start turning in his favour, especially if this year is much the same or worse for the conservatives. He could turn that into a healthy lead, his press coverage will increase, and all the mutterings about replacing him will all but vanish. Just look at his hackgate performances.

    Balls I think will remain too. Labour are attempting to appear consistent in their economic policies, so if the UK enters into a recession and things go from bad to worse, they can turn around and say they were right all along. Short of a damaging scandal or abysmal performances as chancellor, Balls will remain, at least until late 2013/14. His problem is the the UK hasn’t crashed yet, so he’s mainly trying to sell an ideology, rather than an alternative. It’s hard to sell to an electorate that by spending money you’ll actually cut the deficit, it’s easier to sell cuts. It’s not until things look really bad Balls will look like a credible alternative.

  36. Cross posted from the open thread because this seemed like the more appropriate venue:

    About the ICM poll. ICM recorded exactly the same levels (apart from the LDems) In March, July and August when the other companies were typically showing a 4-5 point Labour lead.

    The Sheep made an interesting point on that thread:

    “It looks like EM is suffering from an entrenched press storyline at the moment. The reality of his performance (if you can seperate that from the way it’s being reported) is being swamped by a predetermined narrative.”

    I totally agree and made a very similar point under Anthony Painter’s most recent article on Labour List (which hasn’t yet made it through moderation). Whilst discussion of the political direction of the Labour Party is perfectly valid and necessary, certain sections of the Party need to be very careful about feeding this narrative. Exactly the same thing happened with Gordon Brown. I had a lot going on in my life in late 2007 and most of 2008, that meant I wasn’t paying much attention to politics, so from my perspective it seemed like I came to and suddenly Gordon Brown was despised by everyone, for no apparent reason.

  37. I don’t often agree with Anthony’s analysis, but I did have my reservations about Labour being rudderless after the GE.

    My first instinct would have been for Labour to retain its frontbench team intact. The GE result was inconclusive – there was no telling whether the coalition would survive more than a few months – there could easily have been another GE in the autumn of 2010.

    Brown had been forced to go, as a perequisite for negotiations with Clegg. It would have been better if he had stayed imo, if only for a few months.

    Did Ed Miliband believe he would win the leadership? Not at first. But he became the focus for a stop D Miliband campaign. He had a tight circle of his own young supporters, an influential coterie of Labour elders (Harman/Kinnock/Beckett) and union fixers like Charlie Whelan came on board. Brown himself was ambivalent about Ed’s capability, but broadly sympathetic – Mandelson definitely not.

    So Ed went from run-of-the-mill junoir cabinet post to leader. He had qualities that were apparent to a few, and they believed these qualities would emerge ever more strongly as he grew into the role.

    The jury is still out on that – he still has it all to prove. Will influential opinion formers in the media become believers… and will picture editors begin to choose good shots to illustrate this belief?

    The point about older voters is that many probably agreed with Brown’s closing comment in the debate: “These two [Cameron and Clegg] are not ready for government” – but they just couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Brown.

    In 2015 – if he manages to evade culpability from the media for a major mistakes – Cameron will have gained the credibility of five years expirience as PM. Miliband will need to have really demonstrated his potential by then.
    If he can’t do that… would the electorate really entertain the idea of giving the top job to an even younger 2010 intake MP? – I can’t see it happening.

  38. I actually think that a Conservative overall majority is the least likely outcome for the next election. They couldn’t win a majority in 2010 against a tired, and deeply unpopular incumbent Government, how can they win now against an opposition that has recovered substantially in the polls, with a left realigned due to the Lib Dem implosion, whilst taking flack for unpopular decisions in government. The real question is whether there’s going to be a hung Parliament or a Labour majority (not as unlikely as Jim Jam suggests).

    Rob Sheffield’s suggestion that the Labour Party should just throw democracy to the wind, and a leader elected through an open democratic process out, whilst stitching up an untried and inexperienced alternative amongst the PLP, is ludicrous. It smacks of Blairite sour grapes and a sense of entitlement to run the party permanently along their desired lines, without reference to its members or supporters.

  39. @Top Hat
    If there is one thing I would recommend when you go up to Balliol, it is to get out of the college as often as possible. Colleges are small, and can be very insular.

    Like Amber et al., I don’t think EdM is going anywhere soon, and I don’t think he should. As Alec pointed out earlier, his squeezed middle catchphrase is being used without quote marks in the media, a sure sign that is has traction. I have maintained consistently that to be polling 38-42% 18months after 29% at the GE, to have had a consistent poll lead with only occasional blips for a year, and to not be falling apart in internecine warfare, is a tribute to Labour’s discipline and long memory of what the early 80s did to the party. Now, if DM had got over his public sulk how much better would things be?

    I’m also sceptical about the line being put forward that Cameron will have a second term. It looks unlikely. He didn’t win in 2010, and the very best polls show he has added barely 2% to Con numbers, and that only in the last 2 weeks or so (and even less depending which pollster you look at). Con Home is furious that he hasn’t built on his position, regularly describes him as weak, and is forecasting – at best – another hung parliament, not a Con OM. They, more than other sites and papers, are well aware that the Cons haven’t won a GE for almost 20 years. That is why there are stories now of Cameron stepping down for Osborne in 2017 or so – not because it’s on the cards, but because it is creating a narrative about a Con OM in 2015.

    It is one thing to not underestimate Lab’s task. But is one overestimating the Cons?

  40. Amber,

    “I think your cynicism about this poll being held was misplaced”

    You’re probably right. My cynicism is usually misplaced :-)

    I’d missed the previous Telegraph ICM poll, and was working from the November ICM Guardian poll.

    Although the Guardian, hoist by its own petard, is blameworthy anyway for choosing to compare the results to their previous poll in November, rather than the Telegraph antecedent……..

  41. @Rob S,

    I was actually trying to be serious and give a non-partisan view of Ed Miliband and the Labour Party.

    I am glad Labour don’t have a charismatic, fox-smart Titan of leader, for sure, but I don’t really think Ed Miliband is a problem for you. It’s perfectly possible he could lead Labour to a 2015 GE win. He’s not “bad” enough to say that he would prevent Labour from winning.

    The ground for the next election has probably not been chosen as yet, and events between now and then are far more important than the public and media perception of each party’s leader at the end of 2011.

  42. Neil A
    I was actually trying to be serious and give a non-partisan view of Ed Miliband and the Labour Party
    Absolutely agree…Good to have a proper discussion with Tory supporters rather than the usual `Ed is c***` which is the start and end of the discussion

  43. Smukesh,

    I think most Tories are broadly ambivalent about Ed. The instinct is very much “hands off” – there are enough doubts among the electorate, Labour supporters and MPs about him. This thread says everything you need to know about the LP spread of opinion.

  44. @Robert C
    “….I would say I am firmly on the left of the party and would actually back state ownership of some public assets that are currently private e.g. the railways. I am also firmly in favour of the mansion tax as a redistributive measure.”

    That’s interesting, because for some time I’ve considered that many of the fiscal policies that the LDs put forward while in opposition could be easily incorporated into a future Labour policy review, without compromising any social democratic principles (as opposed to those of the Blairite ultras). A mansion tax is one example, land value taxation is another. Apart from being popular, both measures would offer the added bonus of a means to reach out overtly to left leaning LDs still reluctant to jump ship.

    Balls’ lack of public recognition is part of the problem, I suggest, because if he were succeeding in defining a distinct alternative economic message (rather than leaving the field open to Cameron to put forward a parody of that message) such recognition would undoubtably rise.

    However, I broadly share your view of Miliband.

  45. Okidokey- taking them one after the other:

    I agree totally that in the current First peacetime non-national government coalition for 90 years/ nation split down the middle scenario nobody is going to be 10 points ahead. Not for a sustained period right through to the next election IMO- more likely a maximum of 8%. ive been saying that on here for over a year- even when reds were salivating over late 2012 double digitvLabour leads. Those that say otherwise (that Labour should be 15-20 points ahead) are either mischief making or fail to appreciate the context we are within.

    But it is those who think EdM will stop Cameron who are voting for a red Turkey roast dinner with themselves served up in the platter.

    We’ve been hearing ‘best performances around the corner’ for 15 months- against a government out Thatchering Thatcher – with loyal Liberal support. What the people need is a party and a leader that actually puts this government under real (and sustained) pressure. Not the tedious refrain of ‘just you wait and see’. That is the kind of thing that is spouted by football chairmen too scared (or stingy) to sack the failing manager- platitudes about ‘time to gel’ and ‘improvement just around the corner) when the fans (if not the supporters club members…..) know that it ain’t never gonna happen.

    Leftylampton (my iPad defaulted to lefty ‘lampoon’ !)
    Clearly not on top of the thread. I’d already mentioned that Cameron was rubbish as an opposition leader and not trusted or popular in his leadership ratings. That was why the lead closed in combination with the public really not liking Osborne (that’s not changed) and them warming to Darling. Brown was a drag constantly all the way to election day: as EdM will also be.

    Leadership ratings are as key an indicator for the following election as are VI numbers.

    It’s too late. Believe me. Though modest improvements and m.o.e. fluctuations and short term events (that assist Ed- ones that dont will be dismissed) are going to be leapt upon and grasped with glee. Sad.

    The ‘let him lose the 2015 election and then step down’ approach might have been OK in a era of plenty/ of red-blue agreement that we should “share the proceeds of growth”. But there are poor and disconnected individuals, households and communities who really can’t take another 5 years of the hollowing out of the state voluntarism and fragmented service delivery that both the Tories AND the Lib Dems believe in.

    If you think he should go in 2015 after losing then there is no reason for you to think he should not be replaced before then- giving Labour a fighting chance to win.

    I too think Balls will not be SC after 2013/2014. I also think its likely that EdM will have taken the honest principled approach and gone with him. But not till late 2013 at the earliest.

    This is not about policies so much as it is about personality, likeability and prescence along with not making non left wing labour people (if you throw the pro Ed greens into that equation tgen about 75 per cent of the voting population) bristle with feelings that your leader is a kook who you cannot imagine as the UK prime minister.

    Billy Bob
    ‘he still has it all to prove’- see my response above to amber.

    ‘what would Labour gain from a 2010 intake leader’ at the 2015 GE against an all conquiring Cameron. See (most) of my other posts in this thread.

    Though put simply a Chuka leadership (for example) would offer one thing: a chance of victory that is simply not present under the EdM leadership. And will never be.

    I’ll just leave that OTT post hanging pregnant in the air!

    I agree wholeheartedly with your advice to TopHat to get out of college as they “can be small, and can be very insular”

    Indeed TH has received a great lesson in the notion of a ‘small and insular’ world tonight provided by both red and green EdM apologists!

    But he will also have noted the numbers (in the poll that this thread is supposed to GE about) +5 and -17…..

  46. Smukesh

    Neil A was basically pulling your leg: of *course* Tories want Labour to keep EdM!!

    Roland was fantastically honest in his blatantly disingenuous support for Ed.

    Hooded also -deep down- will not be thinking ‘hands off’ but in fact ‘please let him stay leader’…


  47. Rob,

    There’s no “deep down” about it! I meant what I said. We are, or at least most of us are, utterly ambivalent, and there should be no need for any right-leaning voter to get involved in the current leadership of the Labour party, nor any future choice of leader.
    “Hands off” sums it up perfectly :-)


    ” there should be no need for any right-leaning voter to get involved in the current leadership of the Labour party, nor any future choice of leader.”

    Then Labour will need to change its arcane electoral system. As long as Labour continue to send out ballot papers to “right-leaning” voters who happen to be Union members, then they are granting them that privilege. (And I’m not even going to raise the question of all the right-leaning voters who are members of the Labour Party – though I just did :-) )

  49. Old Nat,

    I had a notion someone might pick up on that, but refused to sacrifice the sentiment to satisfy the literal… ;-)

    (And I had a large bet that it was you who would pick up on it ;-) )

  50. The polls so far basically tell us that the veto bounce has faded to a certain extent, but it hasn’t evaporated completely. On Ed Miliband, I don’t think he’ll go either, but I don’t share the reasonings or the arguments of much the posters of this site.

    Firstly, to those who assert centre-left realignment, well that largely depends on tactical voting during the GE at constituency level and how prevalent that is. Populus sometime ago showed that 10% of Labour supporters would vote tactically for the Lib Dems. Then there’s also the boundary changes which make seats at constituency level equal and Labour will not be able to rely on large clusters of seats concentrated in several areas of the electoral map. Polls, have also shown that in a forced question people choose a Cameron led Conservative government, over a Miliband led Labour government – perhaps, an indicative Labour’s VI is an expression of disquiet with the government, rather than a solid basis of support.

    Another assertion, I see made is the ”squeezed middle” one, and on responsibility. On the latter, this to a degree, is true although I think it’s fair to say looking at the figures of ”in touch” for both Cameron and Miliband both are doing poorly in general. The margin between them for this poll is only 3 points. The real big issue for voters will be in 2012 (and is now) is the cost of living, one which the opposition has yet to truly speak on. As fo responsibility, Miliband had a brief moment in the sun on Hacking, but I don’t think it will be a voting issue (Ipos Mori didn’t show it making much headway then, and don’t show it now). On the other half of responsibility, i.e. welfare David Cameron is well ahead of his rivals on that score, and Labour aren’t doing well there.

    Getting back to responsibility at the top, I believe Lord Ashcroft did a poll this autumn, which showed the parties roughly at equal level on matters like bankers bonuses – so it’s all to play for there. In general, Ed polls quite badly, especially on matters of leadership and finance which I’d say are the most important areas he needs to make headway on for 2015. The economy will still dominate, and in order to truly present a threat to the coalition Labour will need to be credible on the economy, and out perform the coalition on leadership.

    In this poll, there is a 21 point gap between the two Eds, and the coalition on the economy which has nearly doubled since October I believe. Labour’s legacy in government, is clearly still a factor in this which the party will have to appropriately address at some point next year, or else the narrative on that score will continue to prevail and harden in people’s minds. Simarly, the entire strategy needs to change. This attitude of ”the voters are mistaken, we have been vindicated, and if we keep on repeating it they’ll all come round” evidently isn’t compelling, and itself isn’t an solid economic argument with a strong narrative but one with a large degree of arrogrance attached to it. You have to convince people you are right, not tell them they are wrong – and issue which perhaps, will never resolved until Labour free themselves from Ed Balls.

    As for PMQs, I think Ed awful on that score. Ed treats it like a select committee, it isn’t that. It’s based on your natural ability to perform, aided by an element of preparation. Ed, the intellectual he is, is enterily scripted in his approrach and fails to think on his feet. He also clearly can’t judge when to use a scatter-gun approrach and when to stick to one topic throughout. I genuinely think speech threapy he is needed too. His voice simply isn’t authorative, and sounds incredibly whiney.

    I think those simply dismissing Cameron’s prospects for a second term are being reckless. Cameron didn’t win 2010, but Labour lost 2010. Cameron will have had five years in government to build on the aspects that may have cost him the election (a analysis I won’t get into now though). If Labour want to keep on repeating that for five years as a comfort blanket to their own issues, then that only serves to help team Cameron, quite frankly. The Conservatives were never going to garner support in an economic climate which is largely negative, and when the government is going to implement unpopular decisions. The test now, is wherther Tory support is holding up, and that is a definite. The year to watch for wherther Cameron can make ground on VI is 2013 onwards.

    As for ConservativeHome, that’s a fallacy argument. For one, it is a narrow perimeter of assesment in terms of Conservative supporters – especially considering polls are a stark contrast to the descriptions of Cameron on ConHome and reguarly show Tory supporters giving him overall good approval ratings. As for the stories about Cameron stepping down, that’s open to interpretation, although I’d bet it’s because Cameron himself won’t want to go beyond 2 terms (plus the Boris factor). Not his own standing the party, which with the grassroots and parlimentary party is at it’s strongest, and is stronger than his rivals (Miliband and Clegg).

    As for what are the reasons, of Ed M’s poor ratings, well of course press depiction will factor in on that, but it’s not all some conspiracy (as some suggest on here) and other factors come into play as well, some I’ve already mentioned. I’ll break it down:

    (1. Ed isn’t good on the national stage. In comparsion to Cameron, he hasn’t got presence at all. He can only appear somewhat strong, in limited settings, such as one-to-one Cameron direct style meetings. In front of podiums, especially (where political leaders are much seen) he struggles. He is a poor communicator, in that he struggles to add clarity to his stance on issues (see the veto saga and public sector pensions, for instance) and thus appears indecsive, and weak. He overcomplicates things, such as good/bad buisness etc. A more simple stance would be far more clearer, and more effective. Then there’s character. His team is clearly failing to project his character from the perspective they want to. Superfical reasons obviously contribute to this, which don’t beam strength – but language, as stated before is key to this as well. Ed’s language doesn’t inspire much confidence. This may be linked to his poor speech structures, with his conference speech being a classic example. It was unstructured, and issues didn’t link into each other. He did establish a consensus in his speech, such as those who sympathised or agreed with his stance. He didn’t demonstrate direct parallels between him and Cameron on key issues, especially the economy. He didn’t challenge Cameron on his own ground e.g moral capitalism and furthermore failed to challenge his own party, something he needed to do to reach out to the country.

    On narrative, he either made himself indistingisable from the coalition in some areas, he didn’t establish or talk about the narrative much on several issues (public services, economic trust) and in other areas he simply didn’t change the narrative from the last election (see Too far, too fast). Labour need a re-assement of their strategy, and a new narrative framework from which they can work.

    (2. His philiosophical reading, that the country is a more social democratic place, post-crash is mistaken. There is antipathy towards bankers, yes but that doesn’t mean big government is either desired, or quite frankly even a reality in austerity politics. In fact, the fact he won’t reconcile his desire for more active government with reality is making Labour look out of touch on the economy, and thus damages any credibility they could garner on the issue. Furthermore, on the EU, on immigration, on welfare, on law and on crime the country is at the right, not the left. Ed’s stance has yet to even realise that and speak to the country on those terms. On the issue of the family, which should be quite important in 2012, IMO, I think his liberal outlook on that isn’t going to reasonate either.

    (3. Ed Balls. Enough said.

    To get back to hackgate – why on earth people are clutching onto that is beyond me. A Westminster village issue, that only made a polling impact for a few weeks, is misplaced basis for EdM’s talents, especially as on what Ed M would call the ”big judgements, on issues which actually affect the public, he hasn’t made much, if any impact. Things are getting worse. Living costs are rising, the prospect of recession is always being anticipated, and the government’s entire deficit reduction strategy had to reschelued and extended, and was apparently Balls moment of ”vindication” (so he says to the Fabians). If Balls is going to look credible, why has he not benefitted from the coalition being seen as handling the economy badly and missings borrowing targets, and little growth? Why, have the coalition team instead strengthed their standing in the polls, on this issue? The ”Ed will be credible when things go haywire narrative” isn’t compelling, and not a given. If voters still don’t trust Labour in the event of a recession, they won’t suddenly start seeing them as credible on the economy. And the coalition are selling an idealogy as well as the opposition, which has yet to work, and yet are seen as credible, so that assertion that Balls current place in the economic climate is the reason why people aren’t buying what he’s selling I don’t buy!

    I don’t know much about Ed M’s chief of staff but I do know he has a new speechwriter. How his team will reconcile their theory of the ”progressive majority” with Dresner’s centrist approrach is beyond me. Simarly, I’d be interested to know how his media operation is going to be different, or why Labour is suddleny going to get more press coverage. On PMQs, Ed’s new 2012 strategy of trying to get Cameron to get angry being leaked, isn’t exactly a great start. The Cameron team can now prepare for that.

    Ed will probably stay in his job, because Labour don’t get rid of their leaders. They’ll talk, they’ll scheme, but the in end they either bottle it ( etc D Miliband) or the coup doesn’t work (etc Hewitt and Hoon).

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